Do I Need a Permit for my Mobile Office Trailer?

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Avoid Getting Slapped with Fines

Before you place a mobile office trailer on your property, it's important to find out the local zoning and permit requirements for your area. In the majority of cases, you don't need to pull a permit to place an MO on your property, especially if it will only be there for a temporary amount of time. But in other cases, the situation is not as clear-cut.

Educate yourself on your local area requirements to avoid hefty fines or even worse, to pay for removal of your unauthorized mobile office.

mobile office trailers

This is NOT one of those 'ask forgiveness, not permission' situations.

When You DO NOT Need a Permit

If you are planning on using the MO trailer as a temporary office and/or storage space during a construction project, then you usually do not need a permit. That's because the trailer is considered a part of the temporary project. Once you have obtained permission from the city to break ground, the city should have all the information they need about the property (type of foundation, engineering plans, architectural designs, utility connections, etc.). It is always a good idea to confirm that this is the case. In rare instances, a municipality has set up strict zoning regulations that require a permit.


temporary use of land permit

When You DO Need a Permit

  • Stand-alone Office - If you plan to use your office trailer as a stand-alone office for more than a few months, then you will probably need to pull a permit. Any structure that has its own address or is part of an existing address requires a permit. Before granting permission to place the trailer on your site, the city wants to know details about the property and the structure, such as the type of foundation, ground leveling, location it will be placed on property, ADA-compliance, sprinkler/fire alarm system or utility connections? All of this information is required before you can place a stand-alone office on your property.
  • Residential Neighborhood - In some cases, an office trailer may not be allowed without a permit, even when it is a temporary construction project. This is often the case in residential areas where the neighbors don't want to be staring at a metal building from their kitchen window for several months. You may even have to take the issue to the neighborhood association. If that's the case, do your best to win those neighbors over some way or another!
  • Local Zoning Requirements - When it comes to zoning requirements, every municipality and city are different. In some areas, you must obtain zoning variance approval before you can place a mobile office trailer on the site.
  • Highly Trafficked Area - Similar to the above situation, areas that are highly trafficked usually have stricter requirements. For example, if there is an art exhibit, concert, sports event or shopping center nearby, the requirements to place a mobile office trailer on that property may be more difficult. If you can, place the trailer on your property during the 'off season' of the busy area to reduce complaints and potential fines.
  • Local Zoning Requirements - When it comes to zoning requirements, every municipality and city are different. In some areas, you must obtain zoning variance approval before you can place a mobile office trailer on the site.

Who's Responsible for Obtaining the Permit?

You can get a permit application from the building and code enforcement agency in your area. Note: it is NOT the responsibility of the mobile office supplier to do the legwork for you and tell you whether or not you need a permit. While some suppliers are very knowledgeable in this area and may offer their assistance, more often than not, you are on your own for making sure you abide by the law.




who is responsible

Learn More

If you want more information about mobile office trailers, you can read our Buyer's Guide or Renter's Guide.

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